Hillary Clinton stood in front of rapturous supporters Tuesday night at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and declared herself the first female presidential nominee of a major American political party.
"Tonight's victory is not about one person," Clinton said. "It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible." She urged supporters to not "let anyone tell you that great things can't happen in America. Barriers can come down, justice and equality can win. Our history has moved in that direction, slowly at times, but unmistakably thanks to generations of Americans who refuse to give up or back down… This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings, no limits on any of us, and this is our moment to come together."
It doesn't matter if you voted for her, whether you love her, hate her, or something in between. It is impossible to claim that this was anything but a historic moment. And it's one that all Americans should celebrate.
Regardless of your politics, whether you're on the Trump Train or you shouted with glee when Bernie Sanders announced he's staying in the race all the way until the Democratic National Convention next month, Clinton's announcement should excite you. The United States has finally caught up with the rest of the world, and a woman is one last competitor away from becoming president. After seeing 43 men sworn into the highest office in the land, the next person to take that oath is more likely than not going to be a mother and grandmother. You don't have to support Clinton, or even particularly like her, to know this is a huge, gigantic, enormous deal.
Of course, if you only listen to the pundits on CNN, you'd think there was nothing noteworthy about Clinton's pronouncement. On Tuesday evening, David Axelrod and others on a particularly loud panel discussed how young women just aren't excited about the prospect of a woman being president, and they're especially blasé about it being Hillary Clinton. These professional gabbers went on to say it's actually a good thing that these women don't care, I guess because that must mean that sexism has been eradicated and we've achieved total equality?
When you grow up in a society filled with female doctors, astronauts, lawyers, judges, police officers, and news anchors, it does seem like every door is open to you, and that's likely a huge reason why some young women aren't more excited about the glass ceiling shattering on Tuesday night. It's easy to take things for granted, especially when you've never known anything different. But by breezing through those doors, you're ignoring the people who kicked them down for you. And despite the fact that women today aren't strictly relegated to the sidelines, we're not exactly taking over — the number of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 is on the decline, there are just 20 female U.S. senators out of 100 (despite women making up 50.4 percent of the population), and wage gaps remain a common problem (just look at the case of some of the country's greatest women soccer players).
It can be easier to accept the idea that women are afforded all the same opportunities as men than to continue to fight just to make it to an even playing field. But whether you like it or not, as long as the U.S. doesn't have guaranteed paid maternity leave, Clinton's victory is a big deal. As long as convicted rapists receive sentences of six months in jail, it's a big deal. As long as women have to jump through hoops just to get birth control pills, it's a big deal. And as long as we still have to assert that equal work deserves equal pay, it's a big deal.
My parents made it clear to me when I was young that I could grow up to be whatever I wanted. Because of that, Clinton's historic moment on Tuesday isn't really mine. It's for the girls who didn't grow up with that same sense of security, and have had to constantly second guess whether they're worthy of striking out on their own and being successful at whatever they choose to do. For those women, Tuesday night was a huge deal. And now that this ceiling has been shattered, it's time to shake the glass off and get to work on climbing even higher.